Do you like being told what to do?

Do you like being told what to do?

I’d say a few people do. What makes this ironic is that our world suffers from a habit of finger pointing and lecturing.  Can you imagine the benefits of reducing our collective irritation that stems from the blame game and scapegoating?  I can, and what I see is happier people, a healthier planet, and space for more love to fill our lives.

Are you often confused about how to express yourself? Do you react to something that happens while you’re driving, or to something a family member or friend says, in ways, you don’t want to? One of the greatest challenges facing humans is our resistance to taking responsibility for our actions and blaming others for our problems.

We can dramatically reduce this burden by improving our emotional intelligence, and communication skills.

We often hear that we can’t focus more on our health and well-being because it will impact economic growth, it will stifle job creation, etc.  I invite you to be curious about this insanity. Can you think of replacing our obsession with economics with something more meaningful?

What does more self-compassion look like? I hope you can learn to value the human heart and soul above the idea of material wealth.  It’s time we stop paying lip service to this. It’s time to stop lying to our kids.  We often them it’s what’s inside that counts, be kind, be nice, etc., but we contradict those messages in the way we live our lives.

People say they don’t have time to work on their emotional life. I call a % 100 fucking bullshit to that.  This excuse is the reason we continue to destroy the earth and each other.  The ‘bull-shit-capades’ we feed ourselves is more insidious and sophisticated the deeper our resistance to change becomes. We have the time; but we don’t use it to take care of ourselves or to explore our emotions, thoughts, behaviours, and actions.

How can your daily experience change through improved emotional intelligence? What does self-care look like to you?

How can you do any of these things, you can research emotional intelligence, I’d start here with a modern well-known author and pioneer in North America – Daniel Goleman

I suggest you consider mindfulness-based stress reduction in Toronto check out Dr. Heidi Walk

You can learn effective communication skills, practice with a coach or therapist, or read about it.  If you want to engage with the ‘Starts With Me Community’ Come to one of our ‘State Of Mind’ events, or get in touch with social media or

Sink or Swim?

I’ve been reading a lot of content in the public mental health conversation lately that’s so focused on defending, telling other people what not to do, and complaining. This frame of reference isn’t helpful. Most situations get the best results when we focus on what we can control…ourselves. When we point fingers we don’t get anywhere; it’s that simple. I’ve written about this topic before, but lately I’ve been struck my the constant complaining, even by leaders in mental health advocacy. We can sink, or swim. We can rise and empower ourselves, or we can continue to focus on the problems around us and keep our head just above water.

I’m guilty of complaining about all kinds of things. I relentlessly practice catching myself in a cycle of complaining to ask myself; What’s the validity, usefulness, and frame of reference I’m in when I’m complaining. I always find that no matter what, it’s never optimal to complain. 100% of the time there are better responses to my situation.

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
― Maya Angelou

It most cases the best thing for me to do is change the way I think about it. When I’m resistant to doing this, it’s because I’m stuck in self-centredness. I don’t want to put in the effort of working on changing. The person who’s hurt deep down inside is angry, resentful, sad, hopeless and feels defeated. Whining about things I didn’t like was so strong in me, and it’s taken a lot of work to replace it with more constructive responses. I no longer need to complain, because I can empower. When I embraced the gift of self-awareness and responsibility, I had a chance to live the life I’d always wanted to live.

“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”
― Randy Pausch

I still complain all the time, my first reaction is often to complain. About the traffic, about my wife, about my kids, about whatever is in front of my face. Today my new pattern is to empower myself. If we want to change things, we’d better be damned sure we start with our actions. By doing this, we can empower those around us. A gift given to me by all the amazing people I look up to and learn from. They say the only way you can keep something is to give it away. So I hope to share these experiences with others in the never-ending cycle of learning and teaching.

What are you complaining about?
Can you bring self-awareness into your patterns of whining and blaming and finger pointing?
Can you start by changing your perspective to the situation?
How can you empower yourself through this change?

A New Paradigm For Stigma

Stigma has been a constant sidekick throughout my personal and family experience with mental illness, addiction, recovery, and well-being. Working in youth mental health education, I’ve come to believe that the most effective way of reducing stigma is to empower people to embody the characteristics of empathy, love, patience, resilience, and understanding. Without the human experience of internalizing these qualities, telling people to STOP doing something is as effective as using straw to build a skyscraper.We need a paradigm shift in the way we discuss stigma. Stigma exists and is not going away. Trying to fight it, smash it, or go to war against it is futile. These frames of reference limit our ability to embody the change we want. It is time for us to shift our perspectives from fighting to enlightening. We need to enlighten people on their ability to be compassionate, loving, understanding and patient.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller

When I present or speak about mental health and stigma, I never tell people to stop or fight stigma. Instead, I do my best to invite them to discover the love, empathy, and understanding that exist in all of us. I hope to empower people to be an example of the solution instead of a barrier.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
―Mahatma Gandhi

If we do not want to be stigmatized, then let’s help people learn why we are similar to them. This fighting mentality is not going to foster open, healthy dialogue that’s going to allow us to be examples of what we are expecting from others. This type of language “stigmatizes” others because it creates an “us vs them” scenario. The confrontational mindset is not supportive to changing how we engage in discussions about mental health. This position does not free us from the “mind” that creates stigma; it is the other side of the stigma coin.

“We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
―Albert Einstein

I’m in love with the idea of eradicating stigma. I’m also in love with the idea of humanity turning into loving, caring, and compassionate people. Reality tells me either of these situations is highly unlikely. One thing is certain, we have a much better chance of creating a better world if we chose to work on the latter.